This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Living Word Bible Camp,
County of Itasca, et al.,
Itasca County District Court
File No. C0-01-1473
G. Craig Howse, Jeffrey C. Thompson, Howse & Thompson, P.A., 3189 Fernbrook Lane, Plymouth, MN 55447 (for appellant)
Michael J. Ford, James S. McAlpine, Quinlivan & Hughes, P.A., P.O. Box 1008, St. Cloud, MN 56302 (for respondents)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Kalitowski, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Generally, this court conducts a de novo review of the record in zoning cases and will affirm the county board’s decision unless the decision is arbitrary and capricious. Earthburners, Inc. v. County of Carlton, 504 N.W.2d 66, 70 (Minn. App. 1993), rev’d on other grounds, 513 N.W.2d 460 (Minn. 1994). But the district court has discretion to remand the matter back to the county board where a zoning authority’s decision is unsupported by legally sufficient reasons. See Interstate Power Co. v. Nobles County Bd. of Comm’rs, 617 N.W.2d 566, 577-79 (Minn. 2000). And when reviewing decisions within the discretion of the district court, this court will not reverse absent an abuse of discretion. See Prange v. Prange, 437 N.W.2d 69, 70 (Minn. App. 1989), review denied (Minn. May 12, 1989).
In instances where a governmental body denies a permit with insufficient findings, the general rule is that the decision is arbitrary and capricious and the reviewing court should order the issuance of the permit. In re Livingood, 594 N.W.2d 889, 895 (Minn. 1999). But where a county board gives no explanation for its actions, the record indicates limited consideration of the application, and the record of the zoning decision is so inadequate that judicial review is impossible, a remand for further findings is appropriate. Interstate Power, 617 N.W.2d at 577. Further, in ruling on a rezoning application, the board is not required to prepare formal findings of fact, but it must “have the reasons for its decision recorded or reduced to writing and in more than just a conclusory fashion.” White Bear Rod & Gun Club v. City of Hugo, 388 N.W.2d 739, 742 (Minn. 1986) (citation omitted).
Here, the record indicates that the county board voted unanimously to deny the rezoning request without any discussion among themselves. The board did not make any findings of fact with respect to the application or specifically incorporate the findings of the Itasca County Planning Commission/Board of Adjustment (planning commission) into its decision. And although the record indicates the board members commented on the fact that there was strong public opposition to the rezoning application, public opposition alone is an insufficient ground to deny a rezoning application. Amoco Oil Co. v. City of Minneapolis, 395 N.W.2d 115, 118 (Minn. App. 1986).
We conclude, therefore, that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that respondent failed to discharge its responsibilities in connection with this application, and the matter should be remanded to respondent to develop a record that will allow meaningful appellate review. As the district court properly stated in its order, on remand, respondent must confine its inquiry to those issues raised in the earlier proceedings before the planning commission and county board while allowing adequate opportunity for a meaningful discussion of those issues. See Interstate Power, 617 N.W.2d at 580 (concluding that the scope of remand is limited to those issues raised in earlier proceeding).
Because we are affirming the district court’s decision to remand this matter for further findings, we do not reach appellant’s other arguments.